Prof. Adeniyi Olatunbosun, the Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan says the inclusion of plea bargaining in the nation’s criminal justice system is a welcome development. Olatunbosun told newsmen on Monday in Ibadan that the concept would help to “fast track adjudication, decongest cases in court and forestall deliberate subversion of justice’’.
A plea bargaining is an agreement in a criminal case between the prosecution and the defendant, where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a particular charge in return for some concession from the prosecutor. The idea is that in corruption cases, a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge with minimal punishment in exchange for the return of most of their stolen wealth.
The university don stressed that there were many legal complexities and technicalities that slow down court proceedings and prompt determination of cases, which plea bargaining could address. He added that plea bargaining would not only fast track trial, but reduce cost of prosecution.
“In plea bargaining, before arraignment there is an agreement between the prosecutor and the accused person to the commission of the crime. “It means that, the accused person agrees to have corruptly enriched himself with the sum which he is ready to return to government coffers without being made to undergo full trial.
“It is noteworthy to state that, the court will confiscate the property, the money stolen in addition to paying a fixed amount of fine by the accused person. “Let me categorically state that, it is a misconception by members of the public that a token amount is merely collected from corrupt persons who undergo plea bargaining,’’ he said.
Olatunbosun said that the prosecutor usually weigh the options before accepting to an offer of plea bargaining. He said the concept was misunderstood by many that it would encourage corruption. Olatunbosun said that plea bargaining is a global concept particularly in capitalist economy like in the U.S. and Britain. “Though the concept is first operational in the U.S., it was adopted in Nigeria due to high rate of corruption in the public and private life,’’ he said.